The Council of Europe has proclaimed 2005 as European Year of Citizenship through Education.
This action aims at raising awareness about the role of education for the development of democratic citi-zenship and participation, which promotes social cohesion, intercultural understanding and respect for diversity and human rights. This means that education is serving to develop and promote democratic citizen-ship with a view to solve concrete societal problems and favour social inclusion.
Out of our partnership we can state that everywhere we face a lack of active citizenship and identification with democracy and civic engagement - we find racism and xenophobia, intolerance towards minorities, social ex-clusion.
Having the aim to build an approach for observing and analysing the impact of education on active and posi-tive citizenship we discussed during a preliminary meeting of 5 project partners in Brussels in January 2005 how all those thematic fields can be integrated in one project and how a comprehensive evaluation ap-proach can be realised.
There are a lot of scientific evaluations concerning active citizenship and also quite a number of publications on the role of education promoting it.
What is missing is an impulse for a networking and collaboration process â for a collection of good prac-tice examples from the field and extracting the central ideas and methodologies. How can societies and insti-tutions learn from their European neighbour organisations, how can they profit from the experiences made by others?
We were aware that a pure scientific approach alone will not contribute to a sustainable project and would leave the major stakeholders outside. Therefore we decided to invite experienced partners from our existing networks to join the ACT!-project team and to contribute with their know-how from various thematic fields. This way we have been able to integrate (grass root) projects dealing with issues like:
- identification with democratic structures
- social cohesion
- cultural heritage
- uplifting of disadvantaged groups
- human rights and fighting violence and xenophobia
Additional to the academic level (universities) that works on the evaluation and methodology part of the pro-ject we can now give access to best proven practice and sharing of knowledge from projects from the field.
We feel that the inclusion of concrete projects is evident in a project dealing with informal and non-formal edu-cation because we agree to the EC-slogan: "Democracy should be learned and lived on an everyday basisâ.